Violence, etiquette, and training ruled Monday’s monthly Muni Operations and Customer Service Meeting.
After what seems to be a recent rash of violent crimes on Muni—the numbers are still being processed for this quarter—police and the transportation office are working together to increase officer presence on troubled lines, and special attention is being paid to the Mission District.
“The 9,14, 22, 49 and 54,” among others, “are all getting special attention,” said Deputy Police Chief Antonio Parra, who declined to say how many officers–uniformed or otherwise–have begun to patrol the system. Parra is also the director of security and enforcement on Muni lines.
“We’ve all seen violence on the Muni at one time or another,” he said, breaking his action plan into three parts: “Crime Prevention, Muni operations, and the Public Role.”
Muni has more than 700,000 riders daily, and although the number of reported Muni crimes in the first quarter of this fiscal year fell 15.9 percent from the same time last year, Parra is not happy.
“I want those violent cowards out of the system,” he said.
Parra noted while some crimes go unreported, surveillance cameras on the transportation system have been a great aid in catching violent perpetrators. When asked about the October 5th beating of actor Christopher Borgzinner, who was riding the 9-San Bruno, he noted the gravity of the situation, and applauded his fellow officers for their quick response and eventual apprehension of three of the four suspects.
Beyond police action, Parra stressed the importance of the public reporting crimes.
“Be the best witness you can be,” he said, urging that the public not post assaults to the web “for entertainment purposes.” Instead, “note their physical appearance, call 9-1-1, Text-A-Tip, and notify the [Muni] operator.”
Susan Kitazawa, a 62 year old retired nurse who is legally blind, spends 20 hours a week waiting for, or on, Muni.
“I’ve witnessed many many fights on the Mission lines—so many that now I try to avoid them all together,” she said.
“Once when I called the police, they wouldn’t send an officer until I could give them a street address—but the bus was moving,” she said explaining her frustrations with the system.
“When I told the driver I had called, he said, ‘Oh good, they put me on hold.’”
Members of the Citizen’s Advisory Council had similar experiences, either not knowing the best course of action, or feeling too scared to report crimes underway on the bus and trolley lines.
Downey noted smaller offences, including littering a car with chewed sunflower seeds, and refusing to yield seats to elderly.
Parra acknowledged these offenses, citing the October 7th fight between two women on Muni, as a case of etiquette. “The fight was over a seat, and before you know it, it’s fisticuffs,” he said.
To encourage good Muni manners, Parra urged the Advisory Council go educate their riders; a discussion that prompted the Council to consider posting etiquette placards throughout the system. “Let’s try to discuss that at the next meeting,” said Downey.
Beyond niceties, Parra is offering special fare evasion training to officers at all ten district stations. Trainings, however, are optional. “I’m giving them another tool for their tool box, should they want it,” said Parra.